There’s nothing like the sound of a piano. It’s a beautiful instrument, and one that many of us spent time learning to play as children. But now, it’s no longer a hobby that requires enough space for a 500-pound baby grand in your living room. The best digital keyboards make playing the piano more accessible for people of all ages and stages, so it’s easy to pick up and start (or keep!) playing.
There are plenty of great reasons to play an instrument. From mental enrichment to a creative outlet, picking up music can prove beneficial in many ways. In fact, research suggests that playing an instrument may be connected to higher intelligence and better academic performance. A 2021 study from researchers at VU University of Amsterdam sought to determined whether music lessons accomplish more than teaching notes, rhythms and melodies. What they learned was that lessons actually make students brainier, and the benefits apply across all academic subjects.
Researchers used a structured musical method along with an arts education center at several participating schools. All of the schools followed a regular primary school curriculum but some of the 147 participating students were given additional music or visual arts classes. Students involved in the bonus music and art classes were given both theoretical and practical lessons. The authors assessed academic performance and cognitive skills in participants after 2.5 years. They found that students receiving music lessons performed much better in cognitive assessments than all other study participants.
If you’re ready to reap the many benefits of playing an instrument, a digital piano is a perfect place to begin. And whether you’re a seasoned expert or a true beginner, there’s a keyboard out there that’s sure to meet your needs. From a full 88 weighted keys to smaller, unweighted 66 key options, there are choices for every preference, skill level, and budget. To help kickstart your search, StudyFinds scoured the internet for expert opinions on the best digital pianos most recommended across 10 sites. If you have a favorite we missed, be sure to let us know in the comments!
The List: Best Digital Pianos, According To Experts
Regardless of where you are in your piano journey, everyone can appreciate the Alesis Recital Pro for its masterful balance of quality and affordability. With a full 88 keys and hammer-action that mimics the weight and function of a traditional piano key, this keyboard offers an enjoyable playing experience and exceptional sound for its price point. “The Recital Pro is one of the best keyboard pianos money can buy. Not because it outperforms all others (it doesn’t), but because it delivers incredible value for money,” claims Higher Hz. “The kind of value for money gives more people access to 88 hammer-action keys, which can’t be bad. It punches well above its weight and is an excellent steppingstone for students.”
There are certainly digital pianos out there with more bells and whistles than the Recital Pro, but its simplicity makes for an easy to learn and easy to use keyboard. “Although the Alesis Recital Pro doesn’t sound quite as good or play quite as well as our other picks, it’s clearly the standout value,” says the New York Times. “Thanks to its intuitive button design and LCD readout, this keyboard is the easiest to use of our picks.”
“Right out of the box, the Recital Pro impressed with its sturdiness and build quality. The Alesis was the best sounding keyboard of the models we tested, nearly recreating the authentic sounds of an actual piano,” adds USA Today. “That the keys can be adjusted to increase or reduce the keyboard’s feedback allows for a customizable playing experience, with feedback that can be tinkered with, at the drop of a hat.”
2. Kawai KDP120
In the music world, Kawai is known for its long history of quality instruments. And the KDP120 is no different, with great features and even better sound in one compact package. Even better? It’s relatively affordable. “Although it is one of Kawai’s more affordable console models, it’s no slouch,” says Piano Dreamers. “A quick listen to demos (or better yet, actual hands-on experience) will show that the samples sound very natural.”
The KDP120 is surprisingly compact and is a top choice for dedicated piano players who don’t have the space for a larger instrument. As Music Radar puts it, “the impressively small stature of the KDP120 still manages to deliver a rich, warm tone, mimicking the sound of the Shigeru Kawai SK-EX concert grand, while its 40W speakers – 20W per side – are more than enough for home practice.”
“Any time we talk about a digital piano from Kawai, it’s pretty much positives all the way. It’s not a sales pitch either; it’s down to Kawai’s illustrious history in building world-class concert pianos,” adds Higher Hz. “Kawai’s KDP120 is one of our favorite digital piano releases this year. It improves upon what was already stellar performance from previous models. It’s the perfect mid-price digital piano for professionals or serious students.”
Of all the options on our list, the Yamaha Clavinova CLP-775 is perhaps the most visually appealing. And when choosing a sizable instrument for your home, the look can sometimes feel just as important as the sound. Thankfully, the CLP-775 doesn’t compromise in either area. “The Clavinova series is perhaps the closest possible thing to an acoustic piano,” says Keyboard Kraze. “From the sounds to the key action and even the aesthetic, you can’t go wrong with the CLP-775.”
The CLP-775 is the descendant of a long line of piano and keyboard history, and benefits from all the advancements that have been made along the way. “The Clavinova range made its debut way back in 1983, and it’s fair to say that the technology has progressed significantly since then! While the original Clavinova digital pianos looked somewhat piano-like and sounded great for the time, the new 700 series is in a completely different league,” claims Music Radar. “The groundbreaking 700 series features the latest technology developed by Yamaha to perfectly recreate the feel and sound of an acoustic piano.”
But while the CLP-775 may look and sound a lot like an acoustic piano, the truth is that it can do even more. “Among the CLP-775‘s 38 presets are two painstakingly engineered re-creations of two iconic grand pianos — Yamaha’s CFX and the Imperial Bösendorfer — complete with 88 wooden keys,” Sweetwater says. “Playback variation abounds with Binaural Sampling technology for 3D sound via headphones and fortepiano voicing that mimics how classical compositions would’ve been heard. Built-in multitrack recording, Bluetooth audio, and MIDI connectivity let you integrate and personalize your solo play from practice to performance.”
With just 61 unweighted keys, the Casio CT-X700 is the smallest and most portable on our list. And while more advanced players may prefer something with more bells and whistles, the size and simplicity of the CT-X700 is perfect for youngsters and beginners. As Popular Science says, “this is a great piano for beginners, folks looking for a MIDI controller, or keyboard players looking for a truly portable device with heaps of flavor.”
While this digital keyboard is fairly small, it also comes with a smaller price tag, making it a great choice for newbies just starting out, or for seasoned players looking for a more portable instrument. “The CT-X700 is easily one of the most affordable options available,” says Keyboard Kraze. “While this is definitely built for beginners, professionals could use this as a portable option for when they are on the go. The stock sounds are not terrible and it weighs in at less than 10 lbs.”
If you’re just learning to play, the CT-X700 comes built with tools to help you get started. “For beginners, the CT-X700 brings multiple ways to help them learn how to play and read music,” USA Today notes. “The display houses a treble and bass clef image that indicates what key action and corresponding note are being played. For those learning to read music, it’s an easy way to quickly figure out where exactly they need to be on the keyboard.”
5. Roland FP-10
Small, sleek, and simple are all great words to describe the Roland FP-10. But thanks to its similarities to more expensive Roland FP models, the FP-10 sounds bigger and better than expected. “The FP-10 is one of the newest additions to the well-known FP series of portable pianos,” says a Musician Wave reviewer. “What I really like about this unit is that, even though it comes as a simplified version of the FP-30, it features the same sound engine as its bigger sibling.”
The sound engine isn’t the only feature the FP-10 borrows from its more expensive siblings. “The FP-10 is the only sub-$500 digital piano that features triple sensor hammer action keys, Roland’s well-received PHA-4 Standard to be precise, which is the same key action used in Roland’s more expensive models, including the FP-30X and FP-60X,” Piano Dreamers adds. “Triple sensors allow more accurate detection of your keypresses, performing especially well on pieces with quick note repetitions. Escapement gives the keyboard an extra level of authenticity by simulating the slight notch felt when you press the keys about halfway down.”
To put it simply, the FP-10 provides many of the benefits of a larger and more expensive model in a more conveniently sized and priced package. As the New York Times puts it, “the Roland FP-10 is our favorite budget digital piano because it delivers a playing experience similar to that of an acoustic piano without the intrusive size and upkeep.”
You might also be interested in:
- Piano Dreamers
- Music Radar
- Keyboard Kraze
- Popular Science
- Higher Hz
- USA Today
- National Today
- Musician Wave
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links.